MEMBERS of the Workers' Safety Adviser initiative are complaining about the blizzard of bureaucracy surrounding the Health and Safety Executive scheme.
Paul Chamberlain, who worked in the south-west as a safety adviser for two years, said assessment forms to measure the success of the scheme by the HSE's consultant on the project, Greenstreet Berman, were 'a burden and a distraction'.
He said: 'We struggled on with this hopelessly and wastefully overmanaged structure because continued funding depended on it.' Mr Chamberlain worked for the WSA scheme, backed by the Federation of Master Builders and unions Ucatt and the T&G, which visited 95 FMB volunteer companies in the first year.
The FMB is also understood to have held talks with Greenstreet Berman over reducing the administrative burden of the project after a huge backlog of forms built up.
Mr Chamberlain added: 'WSAs spent a disproportionate amount of time on the phone trying to arrange meetings. Employers were extremely busy and few had time and resources to spare.' Mr Chamberlain said the WSA scheme provided a workable model for a co-operative approach to health and safety. But he called for higher salaries to improve standards and expressed doubts over the longterm sustainability of advisers.
The WSA scheme has entered its final year of backing from the Department for Work and Pensions' £3 million challenge fund, but no decision over the scheme's futu re has been made beyond next April.
He said: 'One employer said: 'Just don't tell us this is another initiative and you are here today and gone tomorrow.' This raises the question of stability ? it is difficult to imagine the scheme continuing in the absence of Government funding.' A Greenstreet Berman report on the first year of the scheme also highlighted poor salaries and employer suspicion as stumbling blocks.
A spokesman for the consultant said: 'It is essential to conduct a robust and comprehensive evaluation when there is a significant expenditure of public money. The projects were made aware of and agreed to commit to the evaluation process on accepting the award of their grant.
'Greenstreet Berman has continually streamlined the evaluation materials following data analysis and in response to comments we have received.'